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Why Are Women So Weird Around Food?

Posted Oct 21 2008 12:53pm

I’ve always wondered this, partially because I, myself, am “weird” around food (and working on it!), but Anne at Elastic Waist made a good point about this today, after a strange dining situation she’d had with some women.

We all know eating is a human function, required for survival and longevity. Like water, clothing and shelter, food is a basic need — not something we can “choose” to go without. If we don’t eat, we die.

We fuel our body with nutrients so, like a car, we run smoothly. Many men and women who are dieting play games with this, trying to see how little they can eat and still lose, but the truth is, without adequate food, we’re setting ourselves up for failure.

In fact, taken to extremes (as with anorexia nervosa, which tends to be more about control than food), women can lose their periods, experience hair loss, bone loss, the inability to conceive and a host of other side affects, most tragic of all being death.

In the end, we really do need food.

Sometimes we eat too much and feel bad after. Sometimes we don’t eat enough and then binge the next day. But for the most part, even those of us struggling with disordered eating issues know that we need food to live.

Some view it as an enemy, and some as a crutch. Yet we need it, regardless.

Have you ever eaten when a friend was hungry even if you weren’t, or felt pressured to share an appetizer at happy hour or dessert with friends? (Couldn’t you have sat there like Anne did?)

Or have you ever gone hungry because you were out with friends/family and they weren’t hungry? (Couldn’t you have had a snack, or suggested stopping for a food break?)

Why are we so darn weird about food?!

Is it a crime to indulge in a second helping of pasta or a slice of your mom’s famous carrot cake that you have once a year?!

Why do we need to explain ourselves to the waiter?! Justify ourselves to our friends?!

(i.e.,: “Well, I didn’t have a big breakfast so I’m going to order the soup and the steak but maybe I should have chicken, and the fries, no the baked potato is healthier … “)


I don’t know about you, but, contrary to what it might appear (being “weird” around food and all), I don’t really care what other people order or why they order it.

Sure, I notice (usually because what other people are ordering sounds good to me — or just the opposite) but I definitely don’t judge them for their choices ( and, in fact, usually admire them for ordering whatever their little heart desires versus hemming and hawing about it and feeling deprived for not getting what I really wanted and then bingeing at home anyway! )

That skinny girl in the corner devouring a hunk of cheesecake with a whipped mocha … well, that might have been her whole meal for the day. Or maybe it was her splurge day.

Who cares?

Sadly, I’d venture to say most of us food-obsessors (myself included) would eye her up, wondering. Because so many of us women are “weird” around food.

Most ironic of all is that most guys I know (my husband and brother included) love to see a woman eating and enjoying food. It shows she enjoys life, savors it.

(Funny, but I used to be that girl. Before I knew what a calorie or point was. I’d share things with my husband or my family, without a second guess. No bun was left uneaten, no Snapple left unsipped. All that changed when my eyes were opened to the world of weight loss and “dieting.”)

This isn’t to say that they want a woman that doesn’t care at all what she puts into her body, but rather one who is comfortable enough to say, “I’d like seconds,” or “Yes, please,” to dessert.

Why are we so afraid to show that darn it, we want to eat or are craving food? It’s as though we’ve been taught it’s “not good” to show a healthy appetite. To enjoy it.

Who the hell taught me this mentality?

Surely not my parents; food’s been an integral part of our family’s close-knit culture for as long as I’ve been alive. My only guess would be society, and how it “shuns” women who eat. Celebrity photos gawking at so-and-so enjoying a burger. Questioning an actress if she’s pregnant when in fact she just ate lunch. So sad.

Anne’s piece was a good wake-up call, a good reminder that women — regardless of size or sense of self … still seem to struggle with acceptance when it comes to what we put on our plates and how we’re viewed by others.


How about you? Do you notice women are “weird” around food too? How can you change that?

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